About the Refuge


Less than 5 feet in elevation and one of the most pristine coral reef atoll ecosystems in the Pacific, Kingman Reef lies 932 miles southwest of Hawai‘i. Crystal clear oceanic waters and vibrant coral reefs support a spectacular diversity of corals, algae, fishes, marine mammals, sea turtles and migratory seabirds.

Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge consists of all emergent areas of Kingman Reef and its surrounding 487,016 acres of submerged lands and waters that extend out 12 nautical miles, including over 25,000 acres of thriving coral reef habitat.

The first recorded western contact at Kingman Reef was by an American seaman, Captain Fanning, in 1798. The reef was named after Captain Kingman, who visited in 1853. The United States annexed the reef in 1922 and in 1934 delegated jurisdiction to the Navy. Its sheltered lagoon served as a way station and anchorage for Pan American Flying Clippers on Hawai‘i to American Samoa flights and for U.S. warships during the 1930s before a channel and dock were constructed at Palmyra.

On January 6, 2009, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was established, which includes Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge within its boundaries. For more information, please visit the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument website.